Report: Colle delle Finestre to feature in tough Alpine finale to 2018 Giro d'Italia

The route of the 2018 Giro d’Italia will not be presented until the final week of November, but details of the course have trickled out in the Italian press in the weeks since Jerusalem was confirmed as the host for the race’s opening time trial on May 4 next year.

Although RCS Sport has so far confirmed only the details of the opening three stages in Israel, Turin-based daily La Stampa reported on Friday that the climax of the Giro will feature three tough stages in the Alps in Piedmont before the caravan transfers south for the final stage in Rome on May 27. The Giro is set to tackle the mighty Colle delle Finestre, the Jafferau and Cervinia in a demanding denouement.

According to La Stampa, stage 18 of the Giro is likely to run from Milan to a summit finish at the ski resort of Pratonevoso. The climb has twice featured in the race, with the eventual overall winner claiming the stage win on each occasion.

Pavel Tonkov won at Pratonevoso in 1996, while Stefano Garzelli claimed a small group sprint at the summit in 2000, two days before divesting Francesco Casagrande of the pink jersey in the final time trial. The 2008 Tour de France also featured a stage finish at Pratonevoso, with Simon Gerrans victorious.

Stage 19, on the final Friday, could well prove to be the tappone of the Giro, with La Stampa reporting that the peloton will scale the dirt road of the Colle delle Finestre, then climb to Sestriere before tackling a demanding summit finish on the Jafferau, above Bardonecchia.

The sterrato of the Colle delle Finestre famously made its Giro debut on the final weekend in 2005, when Paolo Savoldelli gamely defended his maglia rosa. It also featured in 2011 and most recently in 2015, when Mikel Landa’s powerful attack put the seemingly impregnable leader Alberto Contador into unexpected difficulty, though Contador retained his overall lead and won the Giro the following day.

The Bardonecchia/Jafferau finale last appeared in 2013, when Mauro Santambrogio out-sprinted Vincenzo Nibali at the end of a stage where heavy snow had led to changes in the route and a break in live television pictures. Santambrogio was later stripped of the win after testing positive for EPO.

The Giro looks set to remain in Piedmont for the penultimate stage, with La Stampa claiming that stage 20 will set out from Saluzzo and tackle the Col Tzecore and Col di Saint Pantaléon before a summit finish at Cervinia.

In 1997, Ivan Gotti laid the foundations for his final overall victory by attacking on the Saint Pantaléon and soloing into the maglia rosa at Cervinia. Fabio Aru claimed stage victory at Cervinia in 2015, while Andrey Amador took the win in 2012.

The 2018 Giro is expected to finish in Rome, although it is unclear if RCS Sport has yet finalised a deal with the Italian capital. In the event of a Roman finale, the riders will fly from Turin to Rome on the Saturday evening after stage 20.

The Giro route is set to be presented later than in recent years, more than a month after the Tour de France, which was presented in Paris on Tuesday. Speaking to Tuttobici recently, Giro director Mauro Vegni said that the presentation was likely to take place in Milan on November 29. It is expected that the Giro’s first three stages on Italian roads will take place in Sicily, and Il Giornale di Sicilia has reported that stage 6 will conclude with another summit finish at Mount Etna, this time via the steeper Valentino approach.

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